Art is an expression of the self that tends to get shared with others. Whatever medium it’s done in, whatever form it takes — art is life.
A great deal of our history is found in art. Statuary, paintings, tapestries, plays, poems, books, scrolls, architecture, and many other historic items tell stories of a time long ago.
Some of the art that is created is timeless. While some outlives its purpose and then is removed or destroyed.
This is why, for example, confederate statuary is coming down and racist icons are being changed.
This is also where the difference between art as propaganda and art for art’s sake comes into play. There are incredible posters from WWII about participating in work programs, joining the armed services, and other notions that, while not necessarily displayed, are still in the memory. But most of these are propaganda, created for a specific purpose.
Even heraldry was a form of propaganda in its time. Those shields with the rampant lion on a blue field told you who sponsored those soldiers. Today, you look at the logos on NASCAR racers. How many brands of products could you identify by their logos alone?
Art is everywhere that you turn. But the purpose of it can vary widely.
When it comes to the art that you do, unless you are doing it as part of agency work or a specific commission for someone else — it’s your personal expression of life.
For you first
Nobody has asked me to write my blogs. I have chosen, of my own accord, to share thoughts on my process, as well as to explore other aspects of creating. It’s my choice to share the blogs I create on my website and Medium.
While I know I have fans and numerous people who enjoy reading my work — nobody requests that I share it.
The same is true of my novels. While I have a small number of fans, nobody is clamoring for me to get my work out to them. Nobody has asked me to create the new ideas I am working on in addition to the follow-ups of some of my existing published works.
Yet I keep on writing. Why? Because I have to. It is in my blood, in my heart and soul to write.
There were times throughout my life when I didn’t write. No works were produced, other matters occupied my time. Still, eventually, I would find a compulsion to start writing again.
For a time, I bought into a lie. The lie that I could not make a living as a writer. Sure, it’s not an easy path, and I am still working on making my living off my writing — but overall, this is what I am presently doing.
It’s a real trap that many people fall into. The notion of work being this separate, must-do thing — versus — being something you love and desire to put effort into is unfortunate. As such, for many their arts are escapism or hobby rather than the work they do.
But the first person for whom any artist works is themselves.
Art for profit
A lot of people consider art for profit a form of selling out. This has been the case in the music industry with regards to pop music and record labels controlling content. The same can be said for a lot of writing work. Many writers along the way had to work with publishers and demands for content. You see this a lot on TV and movies.
So the idea of art for profit has this tinge of dirtiness and a lack of cleanliness and purity to it. This is why some commercial artists — who primarily art for money — are often not considered artists by some.
Yet art is art, and for profit is not a bad thing. Why shouldn’t you get paid to do something you love?
Lots of professions are predicated on an art. Professional chefs, columnists, graphic artists, set and clothing designers, architects, jingle writers, and so on are professionals of an art.
Too many people buy into the lie that art is frivolous. It is something you get as an added bonus. But that’s just not true.
Odds are you have an image of some sort on your computer desktop. Maybe it’s a photo, a painting, or some graphic. Are you listening to music while you work? Will you watch TV or a movie after your workday? Virtually all of that is a result of art for profit.
I believe that like teachers, doctors, and trade professionals, artists should be respected for what we do. The world without the arts would be a dull, lifeless place.
A plea for arts education
One of the most disheartening things I have seen over the years, especially as education shifts more to a focus on ludicrous standardized testing and constant budget battles, is the cutting of music and art from school programs.
A certain breakfast cereal lately has been advertising about raising funds for school athletic programs that have been cut. Where, I ask, is that even a thing? I’ve never seen athletics get cut — but arts? Constantly. The first thing to go tends to be music, drama, and other arts.
Math and science are hugely important, and athletics are a form of entertainment. But even some of the greatest scientific minds have expressed how arts are a necessary outlet even for science and information.
For example, Albert Einstein said,
“After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are artists as well.”
“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”
Art is life. Art serves us on so very many levels. Whatever art you partake of — patron or creator — live your art. Do your art. And know that you are not alone in what you do. Keep striving to create amazing things.
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, as does doing your art.
Originally published at http://www.mjblehart.com on June 26, 2020.